Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs

I thought Leap Day would be an excellent day to post about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a story about things that might or might not be real, and events that happen inside and outside of timeMy sister (Indie Sister!) gave this to me for Christmas, and I actually read it a while ago but missed reviewing it in one of my reviewing flurries. So I shall talk about it now instead!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is about a boy called Jacob who was traumatized by the sudden, violent death of his grandfather. He remembers seeing a monster come and take his grandfather, but his family assures him that this never really happened. On the advice of his therapist, Jacob sets out for the Welsh island where his grandfather claims he once attended a school for children with special powers. The idea is for Jacob to see how regular the island really is, so that he can move past these stories and live a normal, well-adjusted life. But when he reaches the island, he finds more than just the broken-down ruins of the old school.

To start with, books with pictures are awesome. I get so excited when I find a slightly older edition of a classic book that has color plates sprinkled throughout. Woodcut or watercolor or pen and ink illustrations make my heart sing. The pictures that adorned my childhood copies of Peter Pan, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Little Women are in my heart forever. I get why books don’t really do this anymore, that color plates cost a fortune and the publishing industry is already struggling, &c., &c. But gosh I sure do love it when a book includes a couple of pictures. Wish they all could. Anyway, Ransom Riggs is a collector of old photographs, and Miss Peregrine is illustrated with pictures he has found over the years.

(Writing in praise of illustrations always makes me feel like “How can you reeeeead this? There’s no pictures!” “Well, some people use their imagination.” “Belle, it’s about time you got your head out of those books and on to more important things. Like me.” Beauty and the Beast is the best, y’all.)

Many of the reviews I’ve read of Miss Peregrine note that the story is rather slight, that it occasionally feels forced. Ransom Riggs wrote the story to the photographs, not the other way around, so this is a natural complaint to have. For me, while the story was a little slight, it wasn’t any slighter than a lot of kids’ books of this type; and I didn’t think the connection between narrative and photographs felt forced at all. The unrealness images fit so well with the tone of the book and the way the children in the home have been taken outside of time.

If I had a complaint, it would be that I didn’t realize there was going to be a second book. I assume there’s going to be a second book? Because the first one wraps up on a sort of “See sequel for more!” note, rather than a “Story is done, the end” note. Jacob has come to terms with his new knowledge of the wonders and dangers of the world, but he hasn’t quite come into his own action-wise. So I’m looking forward to the sequel, in which I hope there will be lots of fights. My favorite thing about stories where people have all different powers is when they team up and use their powers together! To destroy evil! There was some of that in the climax of Miss Peregrine and I liked it.

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